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‘The Circle’ Director Remembers Working With ‘Endlessly Generous’ Bill Paxton

1 hour ago

The Circle” director James Ponsoldt remembered the late actor Bill Paxton as “endlessly generous” during the film’s Tribeca premiere on Wednesday. The Dave Eggers adaptation was Paxton’s final film project before his death in February at age 61.

“Bill was amazing,” Ponsoldt said. “He was one of my favorite actors for the longest time, going back to when I was a kid.”

The director, known for “The Spectacular Now” and “The End of the Tour,” added, “He was even better than what I could have hoped for. He was endlessly generous, obsessed with the details his character, and generous with the actors that he worked with. He himself was a filmmaker so he understood the job that everyone had, and respected everyone. He’s the type of guy who would text you in the middle of the night to tell you there was a great old noir movie on Turner Classic Movies. »


- Seth Kelley

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Asian VoD Platform Hooq Expands Local Film, Series Production

2 hours ago

Hooq, the Asian streaming video platform backed by two Hollywood studios, is expanding a drive into local content production. Among its newest titles is “Marlina The Murderer in Four Acts,” which will play next month in the Directors Fortnight section of the Cannes film festival.

“Marlina” is directed by Mouly Surya,a musician and film maker who is considered one f the hottest talents from Indonesia. The film stars Marsha Timothy and Dea Pan and is a co-production with Cinesurya, Kaninga Pictures, Sashaand Co Production, Astro Shaw, and Purin Pictures.

Hooq, which has the backing of Sony Pictures Television and Warner Bros. as well as Singaporean telco, Singtel, launched two years ago. Based in Singapore, it currently operates in five countries, The Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia and India.

Its first local production “On The Job,” is directed by acclaimed Filipino director Erik Matti. Co-produced with Reality Entertainment, its pilot episode »


- Patrick Frater

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Indian Actor and Politician Vinod Khanna Dies at 70

3 hours ago

Iconic Indian actor and politician Vinod Khanna died Thursday in Mumbai. He was 70.

The Mumbai premiere of much-awaited blockbuster “Baahubali: The Conclusion” was canceled as a mark of respect for Khanna, who died of advanced bladder carcinoma.

Khanna began his career in 1968 playing an antagonist in “Man Ka Meet.” He was a popular screen villain, notably in “Mera Gaon Mera Desh,” until he became a leading man with “Hum Tum Aur Who.” He soon became one of India’s most bankable stars, with such films as “Achanak,” “Imtihan” and “Haath Ki Safai.” He was considered to be in the same league as such Hindi film superstars as Amitabh Bachchan, with whom he acted together in “Zameer” and “Muqaddar Ka Sikandar” (1978).

In 1982, when he was at the height of his fame, Khanna left the film industry for five years to follow the spiritual leader Osho. He made a comeback in 1987 with hits “Insaaf” and “Satyameva Jayate. »


- Naman Ramachandran

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Tribeca Film Review: Tom Hanks and Emma Watson in ‘The Circle’

8 hours ago

The Circle” is a swankly sinister little mind teaser of a thriller. It’s a nightmare vision of what digital culture is turning all of us into, with all of our help. The movie, adapted from Dave Eggers’ 2013 novel and directed by James Ponsoldt (“The End of the Tour”), is about a corporation called The Circle that stores massive amounts of data — financial, medical, social, personal — about each of the account holders who belong to it. The company, based in the Bay Area, knows everything there is to know about you — but it’s all for your own convenience! You could call “The Circle” a dystopian thriller, yet it’s not the usual boilerplate sci-fi about grimly abstract oppressors lording it over everyone else. The movie is smarter and creepier than that; it’s a cautionary tale for the age of social-media witch hunts and compulsive oversharing. The fascist digital »


- Owen Gleiberman

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PVR Deal to Expand IMAX Position in India

10 hours ago

PVR Cinemas, India’s largest multiplex theater operator, is to install an additional five IMAX theaters. The new, giant screens will go into complexes in Delhi and other cities.

The agreement will eventually bring to 10 the total controlled by PVR. There are currently 11 IMAX screens in operation in India with a further 15 contracted to open.

PVR currently operates a cinema circuit of 579 screens at 126 properties in 50 cities with four IMAX screens in Mumbai, Bengaluru and Noida.

“We’ve been trying to develop the Indian market for 15 years, and now finally have the momentum to build out our brand nationwide and release Bollywood films,” said IMAX CEO Richard L. Gelfond.

S.S. Rajamouli’s big-budget fantasy film “Baahubali 2: The Conclusion,” produced by Arka Mediaworks, will be released in IMAX format from tomorrow in India, North America and selected international territories.

Related storiesIndian Actor and Politician Vinod Khanna Dies at 70Disney Content »


- Patrick Frater

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Veteran Executive Geneva Wasserman Joins the Whitener Company

13 hours ago

The Whitener Company has tapped industry veteran Geneva Wasserman as its president, Variety has learned exclusively.

Wasserman will be based in Los Angeles. She will also be a partner in the company alongside Brett Thomason and Gordon Whitener and oversee all operations including development, acquisition, production, and marketing for the studio. Wasserman will be in charge of executing an aggressive growth strategy for the production arm.

Whitener Entertainment Group’s first feature film, “Dog Years,” starring Burt Reynolds and Ariel Winter, is premiering as a featured selection at the Tribeca Film Festival this week. Reynolds portrays an aging movie star invited to a low-rent film festival. Whitener is a producer on the film, directed by Adam Rifkin.

Wasserman has served in numerous executive and legal roles focused on content development, licensing, technology, and business affairs while working with Dr. Seuss Enterprises, Starz Animation, Arc Animation, the Hub, Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox, »


- Dave McNary

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Bonnie Aarons to Return as the Demon Sister in ‘The Nun’

13 hours ago

New Line has hired Bonnie Aarons to reprise her role as the demonic sister for the horror-thriller “The Nun,” its spinoff of “The Conjuring 2.”

Demian Bichir and Taissa Farmiga are starring, with shooting starting in May in Romania. Corin Hardy is directing. Bechir will portray a priest and Farmiga will play the titular nun.

The studio began developing “The Nun” last June, shortly after “The Conjuring 2” opened. Producers are James Wan, who directed the two “Conjuring” movies and produced the sequel, and Peter Safran, who produced both movies.

Related

Taissa Farmiga to Play Titular Role in Horror Movie ‘The Nun

The current script for “The Nun,” written by Gary Dauberman and Wan, centers on Bichir’s character traveling to Rome to investigate the killing of a nun.

The demon nun, a manifestation of the evil spirit Valak, came to life in “The Conjuring 2” from a painting by »


- Dave McNary

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Writers Guild Talks Going Down to the Wire as Hollywood Wonders Why

13 hours ago

Indications are strong that industry negotiators will need be working down to the wire during the next five days to avoid a writers strike.

Sources tell Variety that there have been mixed results from the past two days of contract negotiations Tuesday and Wednesday. There were no public comments from either side at the headquarters of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers as both camps are observing a media blackout.

On Tuesday, sources said the AMPTP made some adjustments to the previous offer extended to the WGA on April 13. The studio side was awaiting a detailed response from WGA on Wednesday. One person noted that on Tuesday WGA negotiators came into the room toting papers with “96.3%” printed out in large type — a reference to the record percentage of eligible guild members who supported the strike authorization vote.

Sources characterized the mood in the room at AMPTP headquarters in Sherman Oaks, »


- Dave McNary and Cynthia Littleton

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David Fincher Close to Deal to Direct ‘World War Z 2’ (Exclusive)

14 hours ago

After previously taking the film off its calendar, Paramount Pictures looks to be moving forward with a “World War Z” sequel, with David Fincher directing and Brad Pitt back to star, thanks to the studio’s new chairman and CEO Jim Gianopulos, according to knowledgeable sources.

While Gianopulos has not officially official greenlit the movie yet, he is expected to do so in coming weeks. This will likely be among the studio chief’s first greenlit movies. Sources say that production would probably begin in the first quarter of 2018.

A spokesperson for the studio has not yet responded to a request for comment.

Variety first reported last summer that Pitt had been courting Fincher to direct the pic and that the director was intrigued by the idea. The plans had to be put on hold while Pitt dealt with his divorce from Angelina Jolie, and were put into question once the studio, »


- Justin Kroll

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Talking Heads Frontman David Byrne Pens Touching Tribute to Jonathan Demme

15 hours ago

David Byrne paid tribute to Jonathan Demme in a lengthy letter posted Wednesday on his website after the Academy Award-winning director died at the age of 73.

The Talking Heads lead singer and guitarist recounted his experiences with Demme filming the footage that would eventually be turned into “Stop Making Sense,” a now-iconic concert doc shot at Hollywood’s Pantages Theatre. Byrne highlighted how Demme was able to think of the movie as a “theatrical ensemble piece” and reflected on his ability to make the band feel included.

Related

Justin Timberlake Remembers ‘Master of Humanity’ Jonathan Demme

“Jonathan was also incredibly generous during the editing and mixing,” he said. “That inclusion was hugely inspirational for me. Though I had directed music videos before, this mentoring of Jonathan’s emboldened me to try making a feature film.”

With few words to spare for Demme’s more successful films, such as “Silence of the Lambs” and “Philadelphia, »


- Erin Nyren

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Nicolas Cage Breaks Ankle on Set of Heist Movie in Bulgaria

15 hours ago

Nicolas Cage has broken his ankle on the set of heist movie “#211” in Bulgaria, a source confirms to Variety.

It’s currently unclear how the accident happened, but he was transferred to a hospital near the set before heading back to Los Angeles for treatment. He’s still in L.A., with hopes to return to set in about two weeks.

Millennium Films and Nu Image, the production companies behind the film, have not yet announced how Cage’s absence will affect production.

Related

Nicolas Cage to Star in Sci-Fi Action Film ‘The Humanity Bureau

York Shackleton directs the movie that stars Cage as a police officer, following his efforts to stop a bank robbery. 211 is police code for “robbery in progress.”

Jonathan Yunger and Jeffrey Greenstein serve as producers of “#211,” with Yariv Lerner, Avi Lerner, Trevor Short, and Scott Karp on board as executive producers. Along with Cage, the cast also includes Amanda Cerny, »


- Alex Stedman

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‘Captain America’ Director Joe Johnston Boards ‘Narnia’ Revival ‘The Silver Chair’ (Exclusive)

15 hours ago

Captain America: The First Avenger” helmer Joe Johnston will journey to “Narnia: The Silver Chair,” a revival of C.S. Lewis’ “Chronicles of Narnia” series.

TriStar Pictures will partner with the Mark Gordon Company, the C.S. Lewis Company, and Entertainment One on the project with Mark Gordon, Lewis’ stepson Douglas Gresham, Vincent Sieber, and Melvin Adams producing the pic. “Life of Pi” scribe David Magee adapted the script.

“Joe is a wonderful storyteller who is equally at home in the biggest franchises and the most intimate character pieces,” Gordon said. “Because C.S. Lewis’ story is iconic and epic, but also tender, personal, and emotional, he’s the perfect choice to bring ‘The Silver Chair’ to the screen.”

The “Narnia” franchise’s three films — “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” “Prince Caspian,” and “The Voyage of the Dawn »


- Justin Kroll

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Justin Timberlake Remembers ‘Master of Humanity’ Jonathan Demme

16 hours ago

Justin Timberlake is the latest star to heap praise on Jonathan Demme, who died on Wednesday of cancer complications.

The pop star worked with the prolific filmmaker on his final feature, the 2016 concert documentary (and his most commercial concert movie) “Justin Timberlake + the Tennessee Kids.”

Related

Jodie Foster Pays Tribute to Jonathan Demme, ‘A Champion of the Soul’

“Where do I begin? Words just aren’t enough with heartache like this,” Timberlake captioned a photo of him and the late director on Instagram.

“You, master of humanity. You, genius of storytelling. You, generous and warm man. You, special soul. You taught me so much about life and art and about standing up for what you believe. You made me better at my craft,” he continued. “And, the time I spent with you away from a camera and a stage made a better human out of me. You are truly irreplaceable. »


- Maane Khatchatourian

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Jonathan Demme Appreciation: A Filmmaker Who Turned His Humanity Into Art

17 hours ago

The great filmmakers who came to prominence in the 1970s — and Jonathan Demme, who died Wednesday, was one of them — had stylistic traits that made them iconically identifiable. Robert Altman had his multi-character hubbub, Martin Scorsese had his volcanic rock ‘n’ roll virtuosity, and Francis Ford Coppola had his lavishly scaled operatic grandeur. But Demme, vivid and stirring as his filmmaking voice was, had no such obvious signature. You could almost say that he was defined by his lack of signature.

What defined a Demme film was the open-eyed flow of its humanity, the way his camera drank in everyone on screen — it didn’t matter whether the character was a goofy truck driver, a derelict billionaire, the troubled wife of a mobster, a new wave rock ‘n’ roller, or a serial killer — and took the full measure of their life and spirit. For Demme, the magic of movies resided »


- Owen Gleiberman

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New ‘Alien: Covenant’ Prologue Connects Film to ‘Prometheus’

17 hours ago

Ahead of the upcoming May 19 release of “Alien: Covenant,” Fox has released “The Crossing,” a short bridging the gap between the end of 2012’s “Prometheus” and the latest installment.

Related

Alien: Covenant In Utero’ Puts Virtual Reality Spin on Fox Franchise

The short, which Fox posted on Wednesday, is narrated by the synthetic droid David (Michael Fassbender) and takes place 10 years after the destruction of the Prometheus. He explains how scientist Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace), the only survivor of the doomed expedition, helped repair him, forging a bond unlike any he had ever experienced with a human. After salvaging an alien craft, the pair prepared to make a journey onward to meet their creators, the Engineers. The short cuts off just as David looks upon the new world, leaving fans to wonder whether this is indeed the planet of the Engineers.

Alien: Covenant” sees original “Alien” director Ridley Scott returning »


- Erin Nyren

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Box Office: ‘Fate of the Furious’ Aims for Threepeat Over ‘The Circle,’ ‘Latin Lover’

17 hours ago

The Fate of the Furious” is racing toward its third straight weekend on top of the box office.

After earning $38.4 million domestically during its second frame, the eighth film in the beloved “Fast and Furious” franchise should steer clear of the competition once again and land in the $15 million to $20 million range. A major landmark also approaches as the actioner could race past $1 billion at the global box office this week.

The biggest contender in “Fate’s” race to the top is “The Circle” from Stx and EuropaCorp, which will likely earn somewhere between $10 million and $15 million. While its production budget is a relatively thrifty $18 million, the opening expectations are meager considering the star power involved, mainly Tom Hanks (who opened 2016’s “Sully” to $35 million), Emma Watson (recently the belle of the box office in “Beauty and the Beast”), and “Star Wars” phenom John Boyega.

Related

‘Fast & Furious’ Films Ranked »


- Seth Kelley

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Luc Besson Nurtures French Filmmakers at Ecole De La Cite

18 hours ago

Luc Besson is arguably France’s most famous film school reject — a setback that clearly didn’t stopped him from working his way up to become the country’s top commercial director.

“More than half of the French directors who were successful in the last 30 years didn’t come from a national [or state-backed] school. It doesn’t mean the way they teach is bad; it means the way they select directors isn’t right for people like me,” says Besson, who decided to take matters into his own hands.

In 2012, the director started his own free film school, Ecole de la Cite, on the grounds of the studio where he shot “Lucy” and his most recent sci-fi adventure, “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.”

As it happens, the studio was also Besson’s idea, built on the grounds of an old power plant in the semi-dangerous north Paris suburb of Saint-Denis. »


- Peter Debruge

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Walt Disney Family Museum to Exhibit Work by ‘Sleeping Beauty’ Artist Eyvind Earle

19 hours ago

The Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco will feature a new exhibition on the life and work of iconic Disney artist Eyvind Earle, beginning May 18 and running through Jan. 8.

Earle is best known for his lush landscapes and as the lead stylist behind Disney’s “Sleeping Beauty” (1959). He has produced concept art for other Disney classics, including 1955’s “Lady and the Tramp” and “Peter Pan” (1953).

“Awaking Beauty: The Art of Eyvind Earle” is co-curated by Eyvind Earle Publishing CEO Ioan Szasz and Michael Labrie, director of collections and exhibitions for the museum and the Walt Disney Family Foundation.

“Whether it was through a modest snowy landscape for a Christmas card or a more intricate background concept for films like ‘Sleeping Beauty,’ Earle brought magic to everything he touched,” said Szasz, who starting working with Earle in 1988.

The exhibit will feature more than 250 works by Earle, including his rich work »


- Terry Flores

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Ewan McGregor to Star in Disney’s ‘Christopher Robin’

19 hours ago

Ewan McGregor is in talks to star in Disney’s “Christopher Robin,” sources confirmed to Variety.

World War Z” director Marc Forster is helming.

In line with Disney’s model of taking animated classics from its archives and giving them a live-action spin, the story follows Robin, the little boy from the “Winnie the Pooh” series, who is now all-grown-up and lost all sense of imagination. Pooh and his friends reenter Robin’s life to help him gain that back.

Related

Spotlight’s’ Tom McCarthy to Re-Write Disney’s Live-Action ‘Christopher Robin

Brigham Taylor is producing the project.

Hidden Figures” scribe Allison Schroeder is penning the script.

This is the second feature revolving around the world of “Winnie the Pooh,” with Fox Searchlight’s “Goodbye Christopher Robin” focusing on the real-life story of “Winnie the Pooh’s” author A.A. Milne.

McGregor has had a bit of a resurgence in the »


- Justin Kroll

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Cannes: Capstone Group Formed by Christian Mercuri

19 hours ago

In a pre-Cannes Film Festival move, international sales executive and producer Christian Mercuri has formed Capstone Group as a financing, production and full service international sales company.

Capstone, based in Beverly Hills, will debut at the Cannes market next month. The entity is funded through private equity, in partnership with Jeanette Zhou of Jaguar Entertainment.

Capstone Group said it offers filmmakers access to development funding, production funding as well as international distribution. The company anticipates to handle four to five big-budget commercial theatrical films per year.

The company has entered into a three-year deal with Red Granite Pictures handling the international sales for the  production company. Danny Dimbort, longtime partner and colleague of Mercuri, will serve as a sales consultant for Capstone Group.

“In today’s world you have to be more than just a sales agent to be in a position to bring the very best theatrical titles to the buyers, »


- Dave McNary

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